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U of T earns top marks for family-friendly policies

U of T recognized for promoting a healthy work-life balance for the second consecutive year

The University of Toronto has earned new recognition for its efforts in becoming an employer of choice in Canada.

For the second consecutive year, U of T has been named one Canada’s top 10 family-friendly employers by Today’s Parent, a magazine focused on parenting issues. Today’s Parent reports that organizations making its annual list of leading family-friendly employers are setting the standard for workplace practices that provide an appropriate balance between work- and home-life demands.

“Practices that promote a healthy work-life balance are the right thing to do and they link back to the university’s overall objective, which is to be an employer of choice,” said Rosie Parnass, quality of work-life adviser and director of the Organizational Development and Learning Centre. Being named one of Canada’s top 10 family-friendly employers “says we’re making progress in our efforts to address the needs of faculty and staff by creating a work environment that focuses on family-friendly policies,” she added.

Making the list for two consecutive years is something Parnass attributes to the range and quality of health and well-being services now offered by the university, including on-site childcare centres, children and youth programs during March break and summer, year-round physical and recreation activities for employees at Hart House and the Athletic Centre as well as the university’s maternity, adoption and personal leave policies. “I’m very proud of what we have to offer families, I think we have some good policies,” Parnass said. “But more than that, we have some wonderful services that a lot of other organizations wouldn’t necessarily provide.”

Parnass also noted that the term “family-friendly” at U of T extends beyond initiatives geared to younger children. She said the university has adopted a broad definition of family-friendly, citing programs designed to help employees with the challenge of caring for elderly relations and the tuition discounts available for the children of employees of university age. “We look at family friendly in terms of all ages and stages,” Parnass said.

Following the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, U of T was the second largest employer to make the list of the top 10 family-friendly employers. “That says there’s a real commitment from senior leadership because in a large organization such as ours, you’re looking at a diverse set of needs,” Parnass said. “One practice won’t fit every situation so we need to be more flexible, adaptable and creative in generating programs that work.”

To compile its annual list, Today’s Parent joined forces with the editors of Canada’s top 100 employers, compiled annually by Mediacorp Canada Inc. (U of T made the 2007 top 100 employers list as well.) More than 5,000 employers were invited to fill out a detailed questionnaire about their human resources policies and offer independent proof such as photos or newsletter articles. The result is a list of employers, large and small, who have policies geared specifically towards working parents.

© University of Toronto Scarborough